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NEW YORK (Reuters) - Stock markets steadied on Tuesday after three days of intense selling as investors waited to see if Turkey, one of the epicenters of the recent rout, would hike interest rates to defend its battered lira.
Investors have been shaken this week as jitters about the withdrawal of U.S. monetary stimulus and slowing Chinese growth have amplified country-specific political turmoil, from Turkey to Thailand to Argentina.
The Federal Reserve will start a two-day meeting on Tuesday, after which it is expected to slice another $10 billion off the $75 billion it currently spends each month on buying bonds to support the U.S. economy.
Wall Street stocks were trading higher despite a slide in Apple shares a day after the largest U.S. company by market value reported quarterly earnings.
"Emerging markets are doing poorly and that brings you back to the U.S. stock market and that's why you are seeing buyers come in, with the thought the selloff was an opportunity to re-establish positions," said Rick Meckler, president of investment firm LibertyView Capital Management in Jersey City, New Jersey.
"I don't think there will be (contagion) absent something much more material to the investing thesis around the world."
The Dow Jones industrial average .DJI rose 77.06 points, or 0.49 percent, to 15,914.94, the S&P 500 .SPX gained 8.63 points, or 0.48 percent, to 1,790.19 and the Nasdaq Composite .IXIC dropped 1.255 points, or 0.03 percent, to 4,082.354.
Asian equities outside Japan steadied and European shares .FTEU3 were up the most in nine sessions. A gauge of global equities .MIWD00000PUS was up 0.3 percent.
European stocks, and especially those in the less-developed markets, were seen as possible beneficiaries from the recent flight from emerging market assets, thanks to improving growth prospects and still low valuations.
"No need to bottom-fish in emerging markets just yet. We still find the euro zone recovery theme to be more interesting," said J.P.Morgan European equity strategist Mislav Matejka.
U.S. Treasuries prices were little changed. Analysts said investors are reluctant to buy safe-haven bonds on fears that any surprise in Wednesday's Fed statement could derail this month's rally in Treasury prices.
"Investors are having reticence about the level of the market in the face of the Fed announcement," said Robert Tipp, chief investment strategist at Prudential Fixed Income in Newark, New Jersey.
Investors poured cash into developing economies when emergency rate cuts during the financial crisis meant U.S., European and other developed market bonds offered little yield comparatively. They are now pulling it back out as prospects of higher developed-market rates re-emerge.
The Turkish lira rose for a second day against the U.S. dollar ahead of the interest-rate decision expected at midnight in Istanbul (2200 GMT). It was up 0.8 percent at 2.2615 per dollar, compared with a record low of 2.3900 hit on Monday.
A new Reuters poll showed analysts expect the Turkish central bank to lift rates by 225 basis points despite its reluctance to unsettle Turkish voters ahead of elections this year.
"We think there is room for the central bank to use more conventional monetary policy and that is clearly what the market expects," said Fergus McCormick, head of sovereign ratings for rating agency DBRS.
India surprised markets earlier with a rate hike.
Asset returns last 12 months link.reuters.com/huq75s
EM equities and the dollar link.reuters.com/syv58s
EM 2014 FX performance link.reuters.com/jus35t
Major currencies weakened against the U.S. dollar after data showed U.S. consumer confidence rose in January as consumers grew more optimistic about both business conditions and the job market.
The euro was down 0.1 percent at $1.3659 and the yen fell 0.4 percent at 102.91 per dollar. <USD/>
With Turkey expected to raise rates and the move from India's central bank, more emerging market central banks are expected to tighten policy in a bid to stabilize their tumbling currencies.
Brazil, South Africa and Indonesia - some of which have been dubbed the Fragile Five economies, with a strong reliance on external capital - are main candidates. South Africa's central bank meets on Wednesday.
In commodities markets, Brent crude oil climbed 0.5 percent to $107.26 a barrel ahead of an expected drop in U.S. distillate inventories as consumers burn heating oil during a bitter northern hemisphere winter. U.S. crude jumped 1.7 percent to $97.39.
Three-month copper ticked 0.1 percent lower, its fifth daily decline in a row, and was trading at its lowest in seven weeks.
Reporting by Rodrigo Campos, additional reporting by Sam Forgione in New York and Sudip Kar-Gupta in London; Editing by Dan Grebler